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VERIFY | You don't have to restart your vaccine series if you miss the recommended window for your second shot

CDC guidance says it's more important to space out mRNA doses sufficiently rather than get them within in a certain window.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An independent CDC panel voted Thursday to recommend Pfizer's booster for kids 5- to 11-years-old, leaving just one final approval -- the CDC director's --before those shots can roll out for the age group.

However, with elementary-aged kids coming one step closer to having access to their third COVID-19 shots, some parents are still wondering how to properly get their kids their second one.

WCNC Charlotte viewer Jessica S. emailed this question to the VERIFY team:

My kids (14 & 9) got their first dose two and a half months ago... I could not continue their second dose in time... They don’t have to start the whole series over do they? Or is it safe to continue to the second shot?

THE QUESTION

If you get your second mRNA COVID-19 vaccine later than the recommended timeframe, do you have to start again?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, you do not have to restart your vaccine series if you miss the recommended window for your second shot. Health officials say the most important part is that you get it, even if it is late. 

Additionally, it is more important to not get the shots too close together than to get them too far apart.

CDC guidance states Pfizer shots can be gotten as close as three weeks apart. For Moderna, it is as close as four weeks apart. That guidance also says the second dose for both brands should come, at the latest, eight weeks after the first.

However, exceeding that eight-week window is fine, Dr. Bell said.

"If you fail to get the second dose in the recommended timeframe, you can go ahead and get it now, even if weeks and weeks have passed," Bell said. "There's really not a maximum timeframe for the initial two doses."

CDC guidance states the same, noting that if a person's second shot comes any time after the recommended date, they do not have to restart the series.

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